Defining Domestic Violence

People from all walks of life, men and women, same-sex partners, get arrested for domestic violence. Domestic violence can be an allegation of physical violence causing minor injuries, or just a possibility of injury, threats, restraining order violations, and stalking. The charges include violence against a spouse, a past or present boyfriend or girlfriend, or family members. Batteries involving friends, roommates, or tenants are not charged as domestic violence and are sent to other courtrooms.

A battery is a hostile unwanted touching. Angrily yanking a person’s shirt is a battery the same as a slap or punch. Throwing something at a person and missing, or making threatening movements, is an assault. A slap in the face is a battery. Add a small scratch or bruise, a bloody nose, and the offense is more serious. The D.A. charges most cases involving serious injuries as felonies. You don’t have to actually break the law to get arrested, it is enough that the police have probable cause to believe you committed a crime.

Minor physical injuries count in a domestic violence case. Nobody should never suffer any violence whatsoever at the hands of their spouse, family member, boyfriend or girlfriend. No matter what one person says to another person, or how heated a verbal argument, it is against the law to respond to words with physical force. The prosecution will seek to introduce evidence of prior domestic violence incidents whether or not the incidents resulted in convictions. The state legislature has created exceptions to the rules of evidence making evidence of prior uncharged incidents of domestic violence admissible.

Before a domestic argument reaches the point where emotions are too high, leaving the presence of your partner for a cooling off period is the only thing to do. Do not leave repeated telephone messages for a person or call them at work without their permission. Such calls can lead to criminal prosecution. Even isolated incidents of waiting at a place you know your partner is going to be, leaving letters or presents for them, or following their car in your car just to talk to them in person can result in your arrest for stalking.

What happens when your partner hits you first, you grab hold of him or her to restrain them, and when a neighbor hears the noise and calls the police your partner has bruises from an accidental bump or where you grabbed hold in self-defense? The police then arrest one of you and take them to jail to end the situation. Most times the man goes to jail. The partner who started the physical fight can rarely say anything to the police to stop them from making the arrest. The partner who is labeled the victim has little control over getting the charges dropped. See Are Courts Biased?, Invasion of Privacy.


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